Bowman retires as Headmistress of Girls’ High School
July 18, 2017

Bowman retires as Headmistress of Girls’ High School

When the new school year begins in September 2017, the Girls’ High School (GHS) will have a new headmistress.

Andrea Bowman, the woman who has been at the helm of the 106-year-old all-girl school for the last 13 years, began her pre-retirement leave last Friday, July 14.

On Thursday, June 29, at the school’s graduation and prize-giving ceremony, students and staff paid tribute to her. Bowman was presented with a painting of herself done by art teacher Kamara Brackin, while music teacher Donna Clarke read a citation on Bowman. Clarke said that Bowman, the 16th headmistress and daughter of Norma Keizer, who was the 11th headmistress, has been at the helm of the GHS since August 2004.

“This was a milestone in the school’s annals, as it marked the first occasion in which a mother/daughter had served as head of the institution.”

Bowman is also a past student of the GHS, having entered the school as a student in 1972 and graduated in 1977, winning a prize for Good Work at the GCE O’Levels.

She pursued A level studies at the St Vincent Grammar School 6th form in English, History and Economics, then went on to the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill) to read for a degree in English with History in 1981. This was followed by several other post-graduate courses and degrees.

Clarke further stated that Bowman was initially unhappy with her placement at the GHS as headmistress, not because she did not think she could do a good job, but because of the inevitable comparisons of management styles etc that would be made between her and her mother, the late Norma Keizer.

“I just knew that the comparisons would be inevitable, favourable and unfavourable, and I would just have to ride,” Bowman told SEARCHLIGHT.

Bowman, however, embraced the challenge with vigour and strength. She has gone on to accomplish many outstanding feats as the head of the noble institution.

Some of her many accomplishments include receiving the plaque for the school with the best CSEC results for 13 consecutive years. Additionally, under her leadership, the school implemented a Wednesday afternoon programme for first and second form students, which introduced them to a range of non-academic disciplines, including swimming, table and lawn tennis, basketball, netball, football, dance and taekwondo.

Bowman, however, told SEARCHLIGHT that some of her best moments were had when she was teaching.

“When my 4I/5I Class of 2010/2011 presented me with a book that they wrote which captures my two years of teaching them, I felt as though I had done something worthwhile,” the educator shared.

“Other meaningful moments for me were when I had to design a differentiated programme to meet the needs of the 250 and 210 students who entered the GHS in 2003 and 2004 respectively; having girls attend the Global Young Leaders Conference for a few years and having 11 years of Social Sciences overseas tours; the UNESCO funded Modern Languages Lab; the Class of ‘55 Sick Bay; our CSEC pass rates; our athletic, volleyball, basketball and netball efforts and successes; the school’s facilitating the needs of different and differently abled students and having them excel; our steel orchestra, which started during Mummy’s tenure and has performed at a consistently high standard.”

Bowman said she was particularly pleased that her mother was alive to take part in the GHS centenary celebrations in 2011. Keizer died in February 2013.

Various students presented the retiring headmistress with tokens of appreciation at the school’s recent graduation. One student’s song was so touching and well sung that the audience laughed heartily at some of the witty lyrics and gave her a standing ovation at the end of the performance.

Bowman notes that she enjoyed her job so much that most days she went to work full of energy.

“I have always regarded myself as a single-minded person and strangely enough, this job where I worked with and needed to work with so many different personalities showed me more than ever, just how much I march to my own drum.”

She thanked the staff and students for their kind words and gestures and told them that she would always be close by.

“I thank you for allowing me to serve my school; it has been an enlightening and rewarding experience, which I have loved and thoroughly enjoyed.”

With regard to the future, the retiring headmistress says that she is looking for a job and has plans to advance the work of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Autism Society.(JWC)